Android gets voice search in Google Maps

The search-engine company adds voice search to Google Maps on its Linux-based Android software platform

Google has updated the version of Google Maps found on its Linux-based Android software platform to include voice search, along with a bug fix and a new feature.

Android is designed for mobile devices such as phones, and several hardware makers are also promoting it for use in netbooks.

The new version of Google Maps, available for download via the Android Market, now understands English voice searches in American, Australian and British accents, Google software engineers said in a blog post on Sunday.

"After you search, you'll see a map of places. To help you decide where to go, we've improved our business listings to include content such as store hours, prices, ratings and reviews," wrote engineers Ole CaveLie and Chandan Pitta in the post.

Transit and walking directions have also been added to the software, Google said, with public-transport directions available for more than 250 cities, including New York and San Francisco. "If you're looking for the best route on foot, use walking directions to take advantage of pedestrian-only pathways and to avoid one-way restrictions," CaveLie and Pitta wrote.

Google has also updated its Latitude application, which allows computer and Android users to share their location with friends. A bug that caused automatic location updates to stop periodically has been fixed, Google said. Developers have also added an experimental feature called Updates, allowing users to exchange comments.

"Start Latitude and click the 'Updates' tab to shout out updates at friends when they're at interesting locations, start a conversation when you're at your favourite restaurant, or just add more details to your Latitude location for your friends to see," CaveLie and Pitta wrote.

Android is used in mobile phones, but chipmakers including Nvidia and Freescale have said they are developing products to support Android on netbooks as well.

Experimental devices shown at the Computex trade show in Taiwan this month, running on ARM processors, displayed "snappy" user-interface performance, according to a Gartner report published on Monday.

"What we learned about support from critical software vendors convinced us that there is momentum behind ARM in the PC industry, enabled by Android," wrote analysts Christian Heidarson and Ben Lee in Gartner's Semiconductor DQ Monday Report.